March 6


Yesterday at the ITE Technical Conference, the Institute of Transportation Engineers' announced the 9th Edition of the Trip Generation report will come out this July AND there will be a cloud based app available to access the data.  I am very excited about this development and applaud ITE for moving one of our industry's most used resources into the 21st Century.  

I'm sure 1000 people have had the idea to put Trip Generation in the Cloud in the last few years – I pulled our then International Board DIstrict Director, Steve Manhart, aside about three years ago and proposed the idea to him.  I hope Trip Generation will become a living document.  Here are some features I'll be looking for - 

  1. Tiered subscription based pricing so very occasional users can pay a reasonable fee to access the data while heavy users can pay a bigger annual fee that is actually cheaper for them per use.  There are many cities out there that need to access this database once or twice a year.  The days of making them buy a $412 book should be over.
  2. Online submission of trip generation data for inclusion in the report.  We've submitted half a dozen trip generation studies for inclusion in the report.  Based on first hand experience – the 1970s based paper form is painful.
  3. More frequent updates.  Because traffic studies are based on this dataset, agency staff need the ability to go back and double check the calculations as part of their review.  This probably means we can't have a living dataset that is altered every time new data is submitted.  However, there's no reason a new edition can't be published each January 1st.
  4. The ability to access previous Editions of Trip Generation.  Whether the dataset is published on a ten year cycle, a four year cycle, or an annual cycle; we'll end up with a traffic study submitted with data from one Edition that gets approved after the next Edition was released.  Reviewers need to be able to access the most current dataset as well as the previous dataset.  Researchers would also like the ability to access more than just the previous dataset.
  5. I hope they have a standalone app that can allow us to access the data, but also sell a reasonable subscription so TEAPAC, Traffix, and other traffic study related software applications can directly pull in the data.

I'd love to hear more suggestions related to Trip Generation.

  • Hey Mike,
    I agree that moving trip generation to the next century is a good idea but I have concerns about us sticking with subscription models on data-based tools. Essentially trip generation data is a series of micro-transactions that we are trying to confine into a defined product, subscription based model.
    I would propose that we get ITE to follow the lead of the online gaming industry and adopt a microtransaction model instead. People pay for the data they need. No more, no less. Then ITE has an incentive for opening the database to much more information than we currently have access to, as well as develop more advanced methodologies for determining more accurate and precise trip generation.
    My coworkers and I have been punting around several ideas for the last year and this is just kind of the summary. We would be very interested in your take on it.

  • Hey Adam,
    I would love to see ITE move to a micro-transaction level. There are a lot of small government units that need to do a few calculations a year and this would be great for them. Paying for actual usage is the fairest way to charge.
    The policing on this would need to be very carefully thought out though. The typical traffic engineer would only need to get the rates for a fraction of the uses in the overall database (for instance, I’ll probably go my whole career in Minnesota without ever doing a traffic study for a zoo). How would you stop an engineer from grabbing rates from the dozen most common land uses, putting them in their own spreadsheet, and never going back to the online site?
    I would hope that the cloud based solution would include parking along with the trip generation.
    The difficulty is the business model. It’s my understanding the Trip Generation report is a big money maker for ITE. Now they’re partnering with Transoft to build/host the online site, so ITE has to share some of the revenue. Is ITE’s motive to maximize revenues or to increase usage? I think that’s pretty fundamental to how the cloud solution gets rolled out.

  • Thanks for the quick response Mike!
    I believe the better business model for ITE would be to move away from evaluating the data for us and towards management of a forum for data exchange. This would allow them to focus more on developing best practices and helping educate us in those practices.
    While ITE spends resources rolling out the next version of their Trip Generation Manual those are resources that could be better used (in my opinion) on actually educating the Traffic Engineering profession as a whole.
    So to get back to the point, I think ITE should look to position themselves more in the format of iTunes. Where iTunes doesn’t make money off the music/content by making the content. Instead they make money off the transaction of content between creator and consumer.
    And of course you would come back for more data. 🙂 You’d come back for newer data, more regionally representative data, transit/multi-use data relevant to those same land uses, etc.
    In my opinion we need to start building a living database of transportation related data which moves us well beyond what ITE currently accounts for in the Trip Generation Manual and Handbook.
    Sure, they ask for that information on the form, but what incentive do we actually have in filling the whole thing out? None. Because we see no direct benefit in providing that information. The information gets consumed into the void known as the ITE database, and the only thing we get for our charitable contributions is a $275 book we have to buy every X years which barely scratches at the surface of the information we gave them.
    Does this make sense from your perspective? I have limited exposure to the legal ramifications of these types of moves. But as you aptly stated “is ITE’s motive to maximize revenue or increase usage?”. I would suggest that with an iTune model increasing usage is the same as increasing revenue. And that’s the beauty of it.

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    Mike Spack

    My mission is to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.

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